Alomar's big-game success is routine Playoff veteran relaxes with advice from father

Sidelight

September 18, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Roberto Alomar got some advice from his father before playing in his first career playoff game in 1991.

His father, Sandy Alomar Sr., a former major-leaguer and manager of the San Diego Padres, had a few simple suggestions.

Relax. Don't dwell on the game. Keep the same routine you practiced during the regular season.

Those words helped make the Orioles second baseman one of the best big-game performers in the game. Now Alomar is applying those principles in the Orioles' series with the New York Yankees, with playoff position at stake.

Alomar started last night where he left off in 1993, his last postseason appearance, by smacking a double off the left-field wall in the first inning before intense rain and lightning forced a postponement.

"One of the keys is that I had a father that played the game, and that helped me a lot to prepare me mentally and physically," Alomar said. "I think the main thing is just to go out there and be relaxed. Don't even think about if it's a big game or not. Just play hard and do the things you've done all year.

"We talked about it and he always said just go out and play the game. Treat it just like any other game. Don't think it's a playoff game and don't think it's the World Series, because you're going to put more pressure on yourself."

Alomar played pressure-free baseball in the 1991 American League Championship Series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He terrorized the Minnesota Twins, with his father's words still fresh in his head. Alomar batted .474 with four RBIs and two stolen bases in five games and set a record for the most singles in a five-game AL title series with nine.

In the 1992 ALCS, Alomar hit .423 with two homers, four RBIs and five steals and was named the series' Most Valuable Player.

He set a record for the most hits in consecutive league championship series (20) and carried an 11-game hitting streak into the World Series, but then Alomar went cold.

He hit just .208 in the World Series, his first and only playoff series slump, but the Blue Jays still beat the Atlanta Braves.

In 1993 the Jays repeated and Alomar hit .480 in the World Series with six RBIs and two more stolen bases. He is 18-for-20 in postseason stolen base attempts.

But besides his father's advice, Alomar doesn't know why he's so dominant in the playoffs.

"I wish I knew what it is, because I would do it all the time," Alomar said. "It just seems like I was hitting the ball good at the time. Every time I get in the playoffs I've seen the ball real good.

"It's what the game is all about, to be in the playoffs. It's a new season. You feel like you're healthy. You feel like you're ready to go. You feel good about the situation."

The Orioles are hoping Alomar feels just as good this week. The club has not seen the postseason since 1983, when Cal Ripken was a rising star and seemed destined for more playoff greatness.

Now, at the age of 36, Ripken is hoping his double-play partner can spark another pennant run.

"I'd like to see him hit .480 again," Ripken said. "I'd like to see him continue to swing the bat and do the things he's done all year. He's been a great contributor. He's been a guy to get things started and score runs. He's a big-time player."

Pub Date: 9/18/96

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